On June 1st, the duty-free limits on stays over 24 hours in the US will rise fourfold, allowing Canadians to haul back $200 worth of goods after an overnight trip. This is good news for logic, as $50 could barely buy you the dress that seemed totally reasonable to purchase when you travelled south for Seattle Space Needle and Shopping Day (not a real holiday). But is this actually good news for your pocketbook? Yes and no.
According to BMO’s Chief Economist, Doug Porter, price disparity has been reduced from 20 per cent to about 14 per cent over the past year. It’s still a considerable amount to save, but when you add in the cost of gas, time and your impossible quest to return that Target dress you thought was really awesome under the harsh fluorescence of a Bellingham changing room, does it actually make any sense? No.
The best and most simple tip for cross-border shopping requires nothing more than a list of goods that you know and love and find to be ridiculously cheaper stateside (things like Nespresso capsules, Diaper Genie refills, running sneakers, Obama onesies, Chia Pets). Confine your purchases to these important items on your cross-border adventures, and you will always come out on top. The fickle winds of fashion may disappoint, but half-price toner cartridges will make you happy for pages and pages and pages.
How to determine which items are actually cheaper? Do your research. According to this study, Canadians aren’t as diligent as their US counterparts when it comes to bargain hunting. While certain items are notoriously cheaper in the USA (sporting goods, cars, electronics), there are exceptions. And finally, if the item is cheaper even with shipping and duties, just have it mailed to you and save yourself the road rage.